Brown v. Scanlan


At a Glance

Campaign Legal Center is urging the New Hampshire Supreme Court to rule that extreme partisan gerrymandering violates the New Hampshire Constitution.  

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About this Case

In 2022, a group of New Hampshire voters filed a lawsuit arguing that the state senate and executive council maps passed by the legislature are unlawful partisan gerrymanders in violation of multiple provisions of the state constitution. The plaintiffs allege that the state maps “crack” and “pack” Democratic voters based on partisanship to ensure Republicans will reliably and durably control state government for a decade, despite New Hampshire being a swing state. The district court dismissed the case by ruling that no matter how extreme the maps are gerrymandered for partisan advantage, the judiciary is powerless to uphold New Hampshirites’ constitutional rights. The plaintiffs appealed.  

CLC’s Amicus Brief  

CLC has submitted a friend-of-the-court brief that explains why the New Hampshire Supreme Court has the authority and the obligation to review the plaintiffs’ partisan gerrymandering claims.  

Among other provisions, the New Hampshire Constitution contains a Free Elections Clause, which provides a manageable standard that the court needs to evaluate whether a particular redistricting map constitutes an impermissible partisan gerrymander. This constitutional guarantee that “[a]ll elections are to be free” is undermined when the political process has continuously failed New Hampshire’s voters and allowed legislators elected from gerrymandered districts to insulate themselves from the electorate. There is firm historical grounding for applying New Hampshire’s Free Elections Clause to prohibit excessive partisanship in the redistricting process. 

The problem of gerrymandering is only getting worse. The combination of an increasingly polarized electorate and the sophisticated tools that propel today’s mapmaking enables gerrymanderers to dilute the voting strength of a disfavored group of voters with precision, entrench favored incumbents, and often secure preferred electoral outcomes for a decade. Courts are critical to correct this problem. The state judiciary is the only institution with both the constitutional authority to stop gerrymandering and the lack of political incentive to allow it.  

The New Hampshire Supreme Court can and should step in to block these extreme partisan gerrymanders and their distorting effects on democracy.  

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